This season, have you got a surprise mail from someone you do not know personally but have probably read or heard about?

Chances are that more than one such letter may be on the way, more so if you are an urban, literate, middle- or upper-class voter.

In the coming days, as candidates contesting for the Lok Sabha elections start drumming up voter support, the one thing on their mind other than winning would be how to keep their official election expenditure below the mandated limit of Rs. 70 lakh (in big States) and still reach the largest possible number of the electorate.

Enter Direct Post. Thanks to elections, the Department of Post says it is seeing demand peaking for the unaddressed direct mailing facility, which otherwise is used by companies to plug their products and services.

Early onslaught

Several confirmed heavyweight nominees of major parties have reportedly planned this postal onslaught early.

At Rs. 1.50 apiece and delivery to tens of thousands of voters assured within seven to 10 days, they have apparently spotted the strategic advantage of the humble letter over many other canvassing or publicity forms.

Chief Postmaster-General, Karnataka Circle, M.S. Ramanujan says that ever since his team sounded out political parties about this facility soon after elections were announced, demand for Direct Post has started rising from the urban constituencies of Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Shimoga and Gulbarga.

Many candidates in the State are expected to join the game after March 29, the last date for withdrawal of nominations and when candidatures become certain.

“Doing business through India Post and its familiar network helps parties and candidates to account for a part of their spending on election activities,” Mr. Ramanujan told The Hindu adding that its appeal was in its low-cost, customised delivery.

A Direct Post user can send out the political message in a minimum of 10,000 unaddressed inland letters or envelops to homes in select locations over a specified time.

A person associated with a political party, who requested not to be named as poll strategies are not discussed openly, said letters to voters may easily form up to 10 per cent of the permitted electioneering expense.

Some constituencies may see orders crossing a lakh letters each.

India Post says that since it was launched in mid-2005, unaddressed direct post more than doubled in 2009 (when the last general elections were held) to touch 52.8 crore items.

Windfall

Election 2014 may be a windfall for Direct Post in Karnataka with business exceeding an average year’s income of around Rs. 1 crore many times over.

“It has been an unusual season and we are going to be extremely busy from April 1 to 10,” Mr. Ramanujan says.

The warm-up has begun, and postal personnel have been cautioned that they would be handling time-sensitive mail.

The State circle is getting set to post additional staff in high-volume areas to clear the political rush.

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